Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Parenting Pointers: Identity Guard

Identity Guard has teamed up with IBM Watson to launch one of the first identity theft protection services that focuses on cyber bullying using artificial intelligence. Watson’s language and sentiment analysis helps parents identify and take action against social media cyberbullying. This is next-level online protection. Now children can enjoy freedom while staying safe - no longer do parents need to read every single chat. Watson's unique algorithms will flag any conversations that suggest your child is being bullied, and send straight to you.

Identity Guard with Watson services include: 

  • Expanded Dark Web Monitoring — In tandem with Watson, Identity Guard is the only service using multiple data providers to continuously scan the dark web for multiple unique data points. 
  • Social Insights — Leveraging the power of Watson, Identity Guard evaluates members' social media footprints and provides a complete picture of their social reputation, with tips on how to improve it. 
  • Social Privacy Manager — By tracking changes in social platforms' privacy policies, Identity Guard suggests changes to privacy settings, which it will update for the user. 
  • Anti-Phishing Technology — Unlike other solutions, Identity Guard's anti-phishing capacities integrate with mobile devices' native browsers. This protects members from the largest single risk factor for individual targets. 
  • Cyber-bullying Monitoring — Watson's language and sentiment analysis helps parents identify and take action against social media cyberbullying.
I had a chance to interview Jerry Thompson, Senior Vice President of Identity Guard to learn more.

Why is it important for parents to be on top of cyberbullying?
Bullying of any kind is a problem, but what makes cyberbullying especially pernicious is its invisibility. Parents who would certainly notice a bruise or a ripped shirt may not see all the tumult happening in their children’s virtual worlds.

The same issue can crop up on the flip side. Many of the parents we talk to are just as concerned about their own kids being the bullies, with behavior they would never display in person. That’s part of why it’s not just cyberbullying that parents need to be on top of,  but the broader aspects of social media monitoring as well.

What makes it so difficult for parents to monitor?  
Children and teens send and receive massive amounts of online communications through an array of different social media platforms and and applications each day.  Parents try to monitor these communications on an “ad hoc” basis, because it’s very hard to keep up with the flow.

This method (“let me see your phone”) doesn’t work when the minor can delete anything they don’t want you to see and keep many or most posts hidden from view.  There is also an inherent hesitation on the part of many parents not to be seen as lacking trust in their child.

Will this software help flag both bully and bullied?  
Yes, this software will detect any foul play where a minor is being bullied or doing the bullying. This is a critical point. Identity Guard alerts the parent to the incident and provides them with the context they need to take action from their end, while still giving the minor a sense of privacy.

How does the algorithm work?  
This is very complex and not super easy to boil down, but it’s driven by artificial intelligence coupled with some real expertise in this area. At a high level, the software  uses what’s called “natural language processing” to read all posts, texts, etc.We also use visual image recognition for pictures and emoji’s to screen for inappropriate images. We then layer in both sentiment and emotion analysis from IBM Watson to add context to all of the posts. Our algorithm then scores the data, shreds what is not relevant and alerts parents when we see something that the algorithm has identified as a threat.

What can parents do once a conversation has been flagged?
When Identity Guard sends an alert we send the string of posts that lead up to the post that triggered the alert so that the parent can see the sequence of events.  If the parent calls us because there is a crisis, we immediately transfer the call to the Megan Meier Foundation, who handles bullying and cyberbullying issues.

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